Cocoa Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Cheesecake Icing and Raspberry Whipped Cream

5/25/2017 08:04:00 AM

Cocoa sour cream cake with chocolate cheesecake icing and raspberry whipped cream

Hey hey! Here's my birthday cake! For my birthday slumber party (the queen of all the parties), I really wanted to make something special, a really proper cake. Not a simple loaf cake, not cupcakes, not an elegant sunken chocolate cake, not a tart, not a pavlova, but a real birthday cake - all layers and fancy frosting and pretty decorations. (On reflection, I realise we didn't have birthday candles and we didn't sing - but I'm ok with that).

It was always going to be a chocolate layer cake, but it took me a little while to decide on which specific cake to bake. My first idea was to try a gluten free chocolate layer cake so that my coeliac friend Jess could get a look in, but after a quick search on Pinterest and Google, I realised I was in way over my head. (Xanthum gum? Recipes that will only work with a specific brands of gluten free flour mix? HALP). Jess isn't super keen on cake anyway, so I decided to stick to a regular, full-of-delicious-gluten chocolate cake, and I made her a special gluten-free lemon slice, as I know it's something she's missed since her coeliac diagnosis. (Super easy - anyone want the recipe?)

So, which cake recipe? You may know that I'm just a little bit obsessed with Beatrix, in North Melbourne. All their cakes are deeply fabulous, but a current favourite is Nat's cocoa sour cream cake with chocolate cheesecake icing. I bought a slice for last year's birthday, and it's glorious. So I used that idea as my starting point, and made a simplified (two layers only, not four), homespun version of her wonderful original.

Flicking through my recipe books, I realised that I already have a tried-and-tested recipe for a cocoa sour cream cake - Nigella's chocolate fudge cake, from Nigella Bites, which I must have made at least a dozen times by now. It's good. It's real good. Decision made.

Cakes, ready for baking


For the icing, I found this chocolate cream cheese frosting on Epicurious, which looked like it would fit the bill. It's a simple cream cheese based buttercream, with some melted chocolate added. (And importantly, it wasn't one of those scarily sweet Magnolia-style recipes that has like 7 cups of icing sugar to 1 cup of butter. How on earth do you eat those without your teeth falling straight out? And why would you want to!)

Cream cheese icing with dark chocolate

Chocolate Cheesecake Icing

So, then it was a simple enough matter of trimming the cakes flat and layering them with the icing. (Save the offcuts and eat them with leftover icing!) I actually thought it looked pretty decent with the icing just between and on top of the cakes, before I started adding icing around the sides. Perhaps I'll do it like this again in future, for a slightly less fancy occasion.

Layering it up

However, as you've seen in the top photo, I covered the cakes entirely in icing. For the decoration, I again stuck with the Beatrix theme by decorating it with some cocoa powder and a border of crushed freeze-dried raspberries. Lovely!

So, cake is cake, and cake is great, but you know what else is great? Whipped cream. I found this recipe for Thick and Fruity Whipped Cream by pastry wizard Stella Parks on Serious Eats, and I thought it would be the perfect foil to the rich, chocolatey cake. (Can we take a moment to talk about how awesome Serious Eats and The Food Lab are? So awesome.) I'd never seen this type of whipped cream recipe before, and was also super intrigued by the method! You start by taking some freeze dried fruit (I used raspberries), and whizzing it up with sugar.

Freeze-dried raspberries, caster sugar

It forms a vibrantly pink powder.

Raspberry powder!

You then add your cream...


...and blend it in a food processor until it forms a thick-and-fruity whipped cream! (Be careful not to overwhip it, otherwise it will turn into butter).

Super-thick and fruity whipped cream

So, I learned that this method makes an intensely flavoured, super-stable whipped cream. The freeze-dried fruit add concentrated flavour, whilst at the same time absorbing excess moisture from the cream, so it doesn't weep. And because you whip it in a processor, rather than using a whisk, you incorporate less air into the cream, giving you a relatively dense cream that doesn't deflate over time. So stable. (As I told my poor friends at the party numerous times throughout the night - "LADIES, are you aware of how stable this whipped cream is?")

Apparently this is the go-to icing for birthday cakes in Japanese bakeries. (I love this idea - stable enough to hold the layers together, but so much more natural tasting and delicate than a trad buttercream with food colouring). The recipe says that you can keep this for a week in the fridge, but we ate it all in two days. Whoops. It was so delicious! It had a lovely fresh tartness from the raspberries, and was so creamy, like a rich and mild Greek yogurt. (Actually, like my beloved Sahnejogurt from Germany - yogurt made from cream. Ridiculous). It offset the cake perfectly! And leftovers the next day were truly excellent on waffles.

Cocoa Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Cheesecake Icing and Raspberry Whipped Cream

Look, I'm not saying you need to make this whipped cream to go with the cake, but I'm also not not saying that.

Cocoa Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Cheesecake Icing

This was a really wonderful birthday cake - so many delicious components coming together into a special sweet treat. Here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Cocoa Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Cheesecake Icing and Raspberry Whipped Cream
Cake recipe from Nigella Bites, Icing recipe from Epicurious, Cream recipe from Serious Eats

For the cake
400 grams plain flour
250 grams caster sugar
100 grams light muscovado sugar
50 grams cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
150 millilitres sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
175 grams unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
125 millilitres vegetable oil
300 millilitres chilled water
For the icing
170 grams unsalted butter, softened
250 grams cream cheese
120 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups icing sugar
For the cream
½ cup freeze dried raspberries
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups whipping cream
To decorate
Extra freeze-dried raspberries and cocoa powder

For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. (If they're lumpy, I suggest sifting the cocoa, baking powder and bicarb).
In a measuring jug or other bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla.
In a third bowl, whisk together the melted butter and vegetable oil, followed by the chilled water.
Add the dry ingredients to the melted butter mixture, and beat with a wooden spoon until blended.
Add the egg mixture and mix until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing
Beat the butter and cream cheese using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla, and beat until combined. Sift in the icing sugar and beat (starting on a low speed so you don't cover yourself in sugar!) until smoothly combined.
For the cream
Place the freeze dried raspberries and caster sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and whizz until it becomes a fine powder.
Add the whipping cream, and stir gently with a spoon to make sure no pockets of powder remain stuck in the corners.
Pulse until thick and creamy, like Greek yogurt, less than two minutes. It doesn't take very long, so err on the side of caution! If you overwhip it will become butter. The cream also thickens as it sits.
To assemble the cake
Use a serrated knife to slice the domed tops off the cakes. (Cook's treat! Eat these with any extra cream or icing you have - delicious).
Place one cake on a serving plate or cake stand. Place four strips of baking paper underneath the cake around the edges. (This is to protect your plate from messy icing smudges).
Spread about 3/4 cup of icing on top of the cake. Place the other cake on top. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining icing. (You may not need all the icing!)
Gently remove the baking paper from underneath the cake - ta-dah, neat sides and a clean plate!
Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder, and crush some freeze-dried raspberries around the border of the cake.
Place in the fridge for the icing to set before cutting into thick slices to serve.
Makes one 2-layered 20-cm cake

Edit (12-June-2017): So it's totally possible to make this cake in half quantities! I did it a couple of weeks ago for a (small) get-together. Just halve all the ingredients (use 2 eggs), and bake the cake in a single 18cm springform tin. Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes. Once it's cooked and cooled, slice it in half lengthways and decorate as per the above recipe. Edible glitter optional. (Not optional).

Glittery half-quantity cocoa sour cream cake
Glittery chocolate cake

A slice of cocoa sour cream cake
Mini cake!

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  1. LOL "LADIES, are you aware of how stable this whipped cream is?" I love that!! I can imagine me cake nerding out too and saying the same to blank faces :P Happy Birthday Sarah!!! I hope this year is a wonderful one for you!



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